New York City Department of Investigation Releases Report on Police Use of Chokeholds

NYPDLogoBy Elaine Magliaro

On Monday, New York City’s Department of Investigation released a 45-page report titled Observations on Accountability and Transparency in Ten NYPD Chokehold Cases. This investigation from New York City’s police inspector general found that “in several cases where officers were found to have used a chokehold, the banned maneuver was the officer’s initial physical response to verbal resistance.” Matt Sledge of Huffington Post said the newly released report mirrors that of “an October report from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent investigative agency.” He said that both investigations had examined substantiated chokehold cases, “and both concluded that the NYPD imposed at most a loss of vacation days as a penalty.”

David Goodman (New York Times) said the report “follows the death in July of Eric Garner on Staten Island after an arresting officer placed him in a chokehold, a tactic that was banned by the Police Department two decades ago. The report looks at officers’ ongoing use of chokeholds and the department’s handling of such actions.” Goodman said that the report was to have been released in December—but was delayed after the killing of two NYPD officers late last month. He also noted that the inspector general’s office was “created by the City Council over the objections of the Bloomberg administration.”

The inspector general’s office—headed by Philip K. Eure—“examined the circumstances and the disciplinary actions that resulted in 10 confrontations between officers and suspects from 2009 to June 2014 in which a separate oversight agency verified that a chokehold had been used by an officer.” In a letter released today, Eure said, “Our targeted analysis revealed troubling deficiencies from the top-down that must be rectified.” Sledge said the investigators found that, time and again, “New York police officers resorted to chokeholds first — often for the crime of merely questioning the officer’s authority. And time and again, the NYPD ignored discipline recommendations from the independent agency that investigated civilians’ chokehold complaints.”

Sledge said the report “delved further into the police department’s rationale for seeking lower or no penalties for chokeholds.” In the 2008 case of an unruly 19-year-old high school student from the Bronx who got into an argument with the principal, Sledge said that “the department decided not to seek an internal prosecution in part because the student ‘was being difficult.’”

Sledge:

In one case substantiated by the CCRB, a police officer responding to a 911 call stopped a man walking out of a convenience store in the Bronx. The man said that he had not done anything illegal, but the officer quickly placed him a chokehold.

In other cases, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly rejected punishment for officers who employed chokeholds without explanation. Before a rule change last year, the report said, “the Police Commissioner had authority to impose discipline with absolute discretion under the cloak of full authority.”

Priscilla Gonzalez, the organizing director of the group Communities United for Police Reform, said in a statement, “NYPD bans on chokeholds and other practices are meaningless if officers aren’t held accountable for continuing to use them.” Sledge said Gonzalez “applauded Eure’s report and called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton to take immediate steps to impose sterner discipline.”

Eure said the cases that were investigated were “pretty serious.” He added, “Obviously, we are going to be looking at a broader sample of cases to see if it’s more systemic. But people should be troubled by the disconnect that we determined exists already in the disciplinary process.”

Last October, an analysis of more than 1,100 chokehold complaints conducted by the Civilian Complaint Review Board “found that each officer had indeed employed the hold”—yet none of the officers received serious punishment. The review board offered a reason for that: “In the department’s disciplinary proceedings room, and in the board’s own investigations, the very definition of a chokehold had narrowed significantly.”

After the release of the report last fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that it had made “clear the need for the N.Y.P.D. to re-evaluate its disciplinary proceedings in an effort to better enforce the chokehold prohibition and hold officers accountable.”

The investigation report released today said the fact that “several of the subject officers” in the 10 cases reviewed used chokeholds “as a first act of physical force and in response to mere verbal confrontation is particularly alarming.” Goodman said, “It promised a fuller investigation into alleged improper use of force by officers in coming reports.”

SOURCES

NYPD Routinely Rejected Discipline In Chokehold Cases, Report Finds (Huffington Post)

New York City Department of Investigation
The Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD (OIG-NYPD)
Observations on Accountability and Transparency in Ten NYPD Chokehold Cases

Some New York Police Officers Were Quick to Resort to Chokeholds, Inspector General Finds (New York Times)

Review Finds Complaints of Police Chokeholds Increased as Definition Narrowed (New York Times)

 

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10 Responses to New York City Department of Investigation Releases Report on Police Use of Chokeholds

  1. Thank Elaine, this is informative about an inherent and growing problem within the law enforcement community.I think the real question should be what validation is there for an officer of the law, designated to protect the community and serve would ever place a citizen in a chokehold?

    It makes me think of a post on a feminist forum I subscribe to that was about re-training programs for combat vets that focus on the concept that “it is wrong to rape”. It made me wonder just what in the Hel sort of training are they getting where they need to be re-sensitized to rape as a morally and/or ethically wrong act?

  2. Anonymouly Yours says:

    Stupid rules don’t apply to stoopid officers….. They stoop to the lowest levels of debasing….. However, there are times when this maneuver is the lesser of restraints….. So a total ban maybe not….

  3. bettykath says:

    OT update:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30783324

    Two police officers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will face charges for killing a homeless camper, their lawyers say.
    Former detective Keith Sandy and officer Dominique Perez will face a murder charge in the death of James Boyd, 38.
    Their lawyers argued the two will be cleared of wrongdoing.
    The fatal shooting in March last year sparked city protests, some violent, and came amid a federal investigation into the police department’s practices.
    A year-long US investigation found Albuquerque police had inappropriately killed suspects and used more force on those with mental illnesses.
    Protests against the city’s police department happened before nationwide protests over the shooting deaths of unarmed black men and women by police in various US cities.
    The Albuquerque police department has had more than three dozen police shootings since 2010.
    The justice department ordered the city to reduce the use of deadly force in April, but another woman suspected of stealing a lorry was shot and killed weeks later.
    Protests in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March 2014 Between 2010 and 2014, 25 people were killed by Albuquerque police officers
    Boyd was killed in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque following a stand-off.
    Protests against Boyd’s killing occurred after a video emerged of police shooting him, filmed from a helmet camera.
    In the video, Boyd appears to be surrendering when police shoot a stun grenade at him.
    After the smoke clears, Boyd holds two small knives in his hands and police shoot him several times after yelling at him to get on the ground.
    Police then tell him to put his hands out to the side and drop the knife, to which Boyd replies he can’t move.
    Lawyers for Mr Sandy and Mr Perez were confident their clients had done nothing wrong.
    “To the contrary, he followed his training and probably saved his fellow officer’s life,” said Sam Bregman, Mr Sandy’s lawyer.
    Luis Robles, Mr Perez’s lawyer, said he was “confident that the facts will vindicate Officer Perez’s actions in this case”.
    City officials recently signed an agreement with the justice department that requires police to provide better training for officers and dismantle troubled police units.

  4. Elaine M. says:

    NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Says He’d Veto Bill Criminalizing Police Chokeholds
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/14/bill-de-blasio-veto-chokehold-law_n_6469830.html

    Excerpt:
    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he would veto a proposed law criminalizing the use of chokeholds by police.

    The law, which was introduced to the City Council last November, would make chokeholds a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both.

    De Blasio expressed reservations about the bill last year, but on Tuesday, he said he’d veto it in its current form, according to the New York Post.

    “The mayor would veto the chokehold bill as it is currently drafted were it to reach his desk,” spokesman Phil Walzak told the Post. The paper quoted an unnamed source at City Hall that said de Blasio “believes NYPD internal policy remains the best way to monitor and regulate.”

    “He has said he wants to make sure that this technique is available to cops in a life-and-death situation,” Councilman Rory Lancman, who introduced the chokehold bill to the City Council, added. “I hope that we can have a dialogue with the mayor and other stakeholders so that by the time the bill reaches his desk, it will be something we can both support.”

  5. eniobob says:

    PBA’s Patrick Lynch spurs yelling, shoving among cops over NYPD-City Hall feud
    The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association was not so much on Tuesday as some cops shouted down Lynch regarding his demand that Mayor de Blasio apologize over comments related to race and police relations.
    BY Rocco Parascandola , Tina Moore
    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
    Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 3:53 PM

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/pba-lynch-spurs-yelling-cops-city-hall-feud-article-1.2076394

  6. Elaine M. says:

    Eniobob,

    Gonzalez: Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch in for a fight to keep his job, and may deserve to lose
    A group within the PBA plans to unveil an opposition slate later this month to challenge for leadership of the union. It would mark the first time since 2003 Lynch would be challenged for his post.
    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Wednesday, January 14, 2015
    http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/gonzalez-pba-pat-lynch-ousted-june-elections-article-1.2076930

    Excerpt:
    Police union boss Patrick Lynch could soon be fighting for his own survival. Dissidents in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association are preparing a campaign to unseat Lynch in the union’s June election — the first such challenge to his leadership since 2003.

    “Pat does a lot of yelling and screaming, but there’s never a solution, and in the meantime the police officer’s life keeps getting worse,” one insurgent told the Daily News.

    The group will unveil its opposition slate — including some of the PBA’s current leadership — later this month, a source said.

    Lynch has been tossing verbal jabs at Mayor de Blasio ever since a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of Eric Garner. After the Dec. 20 assassination of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, Lynch recklessly charged their blood was on the mayor’s hands. And then, many suspect, he triggered a two-week arrest-and-summons slowdown by his members.

    But fissures within the union are becoming apparent. First came the anemic response to a letter Lynch issued on the PBA website asking cops to bar the mayor and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito from their funerals if they were killed on the job. Only 4% of cops have signed it, sources told The News.

  7. eniobob says:

    It’s getting hot over there(New York) that is.

  8. Mike Spindell says:

    Lynch made a fundamentally stupid error in his leadership of the union. There is a natural tendency for a majority of people to support the police since they see them ss their protectors from the problems besetting their city. However, the Staten Island strangling touched a nerve that was felt by most, since it was extremely hard to justify as self defends of any kind. The refusal to indict outraged people beyond lines of ethnicity and class, since it seemed to ensure that no penalty whatsoever would be paid by the officers and had most people reexamining their attitudes towers excessive use of force by the NYPD. Lynch who could have protected his officers could have found a way to justify the killing and at the same time expressing sorrow that it was necessary. Instead he chose an in your face tactic of defends and chose to make the recently elected Mayor the issue. By turning their backs on the City’s highest elected official and by emphacizing their lack of commitment to the City by going on a virtual work stoppage they stupidly showed that they see themselves apart from the City and cast themselves. as “outsiders” which most of them are. This aloof, elite and threatening attitude did not sit well with the public and many police officers understood this, thus eroding Lynch’s support.

  9. Elaine M. says:

    Mike,

    I’ve been doing some research on Lynch. Here’s one of the articles that I found:

    NYPD Union President Patrick Lynch Is Completely Nuts: A History
    http://gawker.com/nypd-union-president-patrick-lynch-is-completely-nuts-1674178970

  10. eniobob says:

    Mike ,yep !

    “Attacks by the New York City police unions on Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) may have backfired.

    New York City voters across racial lines disapprove of recent protests in which police officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the funeral of two police officers slain in the line of duty, a new Quinnipiac poll says .”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/15/bill-de-blasio-police-unions_n_6482268.html#comments

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